Schooling The Next Generation On MJ

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Like every parent of a soon-to-be-teenage boy in this day and age, I’ve been bracing myself for the conversation.

Like my father before me and his before him, I’ll have to make sense of one of life’s most important topics to a 12-year-old still grappling with the basics of why brushed teeth and at least a hint of some sort of deodorant are an absolute necessity for the middle-school male on the move.

Coming up with the right words to explain why it is time for him to decide for himself who and what makes him tick led me back my own transitional moment that saw me go from a wide-eyed kid following the lead of my father to a teenage wannabe deciding for myself that his standard of greatness might be different from my own.

In a nutshell, it’s time for him to decide whose posters and pictures go up on his bedroom wall instead of asking me to do it for him.

The most vivid reminder I have of that phase of my life, of course, is connected to the game we all love. It was one day in eighth grade that it dawned on me that Michael Jordan, and not Magic Johnson, would be the singular superstar athlete of my generation. Sure, there were other stars in other sports fighting for that title. But it was clear to most anyone with any sense at all that Jordan was well on his way to being The Man early on his in NBA career. As much as I loved Magic and was devoted to the belief that he had indeed revolutionized the game as a 6-foot-9, do-it-all point guard capable of superhuman feats, Jordan had surpassed him in my then adolescent eyes.

(Thankfully, it’s Michael Jordan Week on NBA TV, so I can let my son tune in and see for himself.)

Like plenty of other thrirtysomethings out there, I grew up on a steady diet of Lakers-Celtics. And we were most definitely a Showtime Lakers family, even if we were perched smack in the middle between Detroit and Chicago. Magic was the man. The same reverence I imagine my grandfather reserved for Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson in their respective primes was afforded by my father to Magic, and to a lesser extent Larry Bird (who was recognized then, somewhat reluctantly and through the prism of my father’s purple and gold colored lenses, for being Magic’s near-equal).

So in an effort to explain to my son why it’s time for him to identify and recognize his own MJ, I had to come up with the best way of describing the phenomenon that was the Jordan experience. Visual aides (the videos above and below) help make the job much easier than it might have been for Baby Boomers, like my pops, trying to do the same.

But the videos alone don’t do justice to the cosmic energy that accompanied living in the midst of Jordan’s heyday. Even if you weren’t fond of Jordan or the Chicago Bulls, there was always the acknowledgement of his transcendent greatness. I’m sure there were heated debates about where he might fit in the all-time great scheme of things, similar to the ones waged here on a normal day about the game’s biggest stars of today. Of course, that debate ended a few years later after he and the Bulls started reeling off championships.

As crazy as it sounds, history is even kinder to Jordan than you might suspect, what with the flood of empirical, keen statistical and analytical data we have to qualify his greatness in hindsight. That is perhaps the greatest testament of all to MJs’ legacy, even greater than fathers who watched him in his prime and can only pass down the legend through word of mouth to their first-born sons.

When it comes to schooling the next generation on MJ, the teaching aides are aplenty. And as mentioned, with NBA TV providing the visual accompaniment for the global hoops legend I’ll be passing on to my own this week, there will be a renewed appreciation for the NBA’s true G.O.A.T.

Do yourself a favor and tune in this week.

21 Comments

  1. Dave Z says:

    Bird is the Word…

  2. Flickree says:

    Learn much more here!ee

  3. Zar The Knicks Fans says:

    i came from poor country and i only catch Jordan’s last title with bulls and his wizard days when i get to states but until today i didn’t see any players play as hard as Jordan. i remembered him diving for loose balls and try to get the position at the age of 40 while young players like k.brown just st00d there and did nothing. he dove for the ball and get a cut in his lips and it was only regular season game. you can imagine how hard he would play if it is a playoff or a final game. i was fortunate enough to see him play live in MSG, i saved up my allowance for so many months just to see him play live. it feel like it was a prestige or an honor to see him play in person cuz where i came from he was like a myth. in late 80s and 90s when global communication is not very advance (no internet, no satellite TV back home ) my people know so little about U.S. but they know 3 things for sure : White people (not being a racist) , U.S dollar and Michael Jordan. Some of us don’t even know what’s Chicago bulls logo looks like but somehow a lots of us know how MJ played and all his moves. we all tried to imitate him. he’s not gonna be father figure like many of you said but he is very positive role model cuz many youngster wanted to be like him and keep them off the street. his impact was so huge and none of the today players has that kind of impact. that’s why he is GOAT

  4. BLACKMANSTAIN says:

    Ms. Bev Black: you must be saddened by your detachment of reality in our lifetime or have no sons of your own…prison is deeper than role models unfortunately many innocent, educated young men have been subjected to wrongful accusations and an unresponsive system, we still have far to go, but ‘charity begins on your home court’ with Coach Mom & Dad.

    MJ was the BEST period. I being a New York Knicks fan since forever I can remember & cringing each time MJ came to the Garden. If you were a NYK fan of the late 80’s the Celtics were our Achilles’ heel and then came those Bulls and MJ stealing our thunder. I knew the sign of things to come was the bulls signing of Bill Cartwright and our receiving of Charles Oakley. MJ was the NBA poster child worldwide..while crack was tearing up streets and black men were going to jail, MJ was tearing up the hardwood sending teams into defensive purgatory (Jordan rules). I can say that his impact on my life has been immeasurable and the journey we watched from day one and till day now has never relented that MJ was the NBA’s messiah and mines also.

    Sometimes I dream that he is me…

    Throwback: 30 somethings remember 23 being the first number snatched on ANY bball team, low socks, baggy shorts, bald heads, even some dudes walked ‘pigeon toed’ or bowlegged cause they thought MJ had been….real fans remember!! GBMJ

  5. Wagner Silva says:

    Nunca vai existir outro, nunca mais,,,, parabens GRANDE JORDAN,,,

  6. 80s90s says:

    MJ is the greatest and anybody with brain can tell. In fact, nobody can deny that. G.O.A.T.

  7. sanchezlanon says:

    Hi Sekou, I am a 43 years old who did not have to deal with that situation with my son who now is 13 and is doubting between soccer and basketball, The day that without me knowing he saw me watching my old MJ Highlights he discovered what I discovered more than 20 years ago. Now we just don’t talk about sport in general, EXCELLENCE became a topic for everything. I won’t tell you what number my son Malcolm wears…

  8. John says:

    MJ the best of all times. There is not much else I can say.

  9. KJ-B says:

    Give me the other MJ — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZHXe3eTooY&feature=youtu.be … Happy 52nd Birthday to the greatest I’ve ever seen –>MAGIC JOHNSON<– My only regret is that Jordan got to the Finals so late in his career and Magic retired just when he'd found a new East Coast team to run with… BUT I do understand why Jordan is #1 is most books.

    In my own strange way, I rate the best player as the player if you could multiply him to play all 5 positions, who'd be the best! Tim Duncan, KG + LeBron, Larry Bird would all rate Real High on that list–Hakeem's probably the best all around center!

    • wannabedj says:

      Great comment… I still think Magic is the greatest all around player i mean look at the first five years high school championship, college, nba finals mvp as a rookie without kareem playing center… are you kidding me… and playing in the 80’s when the league had fewer teams and talent was more condensed… i mean please remember… magic and lakers beat the bulls first game… with divacs at center and were out of it not because of the greatness of the bulls but the injury to James Worthy… but no one ever remembers those details… statiscally jordan is great… but definitely not G.O.A.T.

    • JohnsonK says:

      Fail

  10. T-Dot Punjabi says:

    Kobe is my role model cuz of his overall career and the changes he made to himself, he got into trouble early in his career but he realized that it wasnt the way to get a ring so he matured and developed into a “good guy”

    also, Kobe’s work ethic and determination is UNMATCHED and UNTOUCHABLE.

    no one in the league today has worked as hard as Kobe and dont say kobe has bad work ethic just cuz of the Dallas sweep, dats cuz hes aging and now starting to slow down but 2 yrs ago nd maybe even 1 year ago kobe was working mad hard

  11. DirkLeBron1 says:

    Michael is the greatest of all time. There is no question he should be the ideal sports role model for young athleters.

  12. ZULU says:

    Ms Bev Black, your last sentence says it all. NBA TV is doing what it does best. I am always concerned that not enough emphasis is placed on “reading”. There is more to MJ and life for that fact. Than just qatching a visual presentation. We should be encouraging young people to read for refernce. MJ obviously had a life off the court.

  13. K. Sloan says:

    I grew up watchin MJ and the bulls. Every stuggle when the lost and win they won, I miss the days of watchin Michael Jordan play even when he was with the wizards. There’s just not any players like him out there both on the court and off. He’s still my Hero. He changed the game and every fans way they looked at the game of Basketball. Thanks MJ

  14. J.J says:

    How is a sports athlete a positive male role model, kids need to get their act straight and a REAL FATHER!!!! not some damn fool dunking on raindeers on TV

    • Imad Akel says:

      i agere. Not every kid can be MJ. And you don’t want kids to think being MJ is the only way to succeed.
      There are many ways to succeed, and they all start with two things: Working hard and doing it by the rules.
      MJ demonstrates these things, but that message is overshadowed by his greatness. MJ made things look easy, being a superstar just ballin’ making millions while chewin gum on live TV. He worked hard to get there for sure, but that’s not the part they show you.

      Hardworking parents and family members make for way better role models.

    • Gary says:

      You’re missing the point. MJ or any other athlete aren’t ment to be father figures. They are just good examples of greatness in what they do. Hopefully it inspires kids.

  15. MsBevBlack says:

    It is so important for young men to have postive male role models in their lives. The prision system would not be loaded down with so many young men if their fathers and other postive male father figures hepled out with their upbringing. I think sport is a good diversion from so much mischeif that kids can get into nowadays.

    MJ set a wonderful example of what a young man can do with his life and dreams.
    Helping the next generation is the responsibility of each and everyone of us.

    Lot of love,
    NBA FAN
    MsBevBlack